1 of 2
1
HD: St. Cuthbert’s Gospel
Posted: 15 July 2011 03:32 AM   [ Ignore ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4656
Joined  2007-01-03

The British Library is trying to buy it

Profile
 
 
Posted: 17 July 2011 12:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1365
Joined  2007-01-29

I fully support their efforts at preservation of this hugely important book.  If anyone is thinking of visiting the UK, please don’t miss out on visiting Durham Cathedral.  A few years ago we took fairly hard-bitten friends from Florida to visit there and they were completely overcome by the atmosphere.  But we don’t like to be swamped by hordes of tourists, so we tend not to shout about our beautiful and timeless region.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 19 July 2011 08:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  158
Joined  2007-02-14

Why does the report of the press release show four different people handling the bible with bare hands?  Maybe if they are interested in preservation they should raise 2.75 million pounds plus two pounds and buy a pair of gloves.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 19 July 2011 10:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1365
Joined  2007-01-29

The thought struck me, too.  Maybe I’ll take them a pair of lovingly knit nice, white cotton gloves.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 19 July 2011 11:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1970
Joined  2007-02-19

Why splurge on two pounds? That’s a huge sum. A box of throwaway surgical gloves would be just as good, and probably a lot cheaper.

These aren’t the first people I’ve seen who own incredibly rare and valuable (and perishable) historical objects, and haven’t the foggiest idea how to treat them. The sooner the British Library get their (gloved) hands on the book, the better. Who are the present owners, anyway? And how did they come to own the book?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 19 July 2011 12:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2807
Joined  2007-01-31

Given the sulfur compounds present in many latex gloves, you might be better off with bare hands.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 19 July 2011 01:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1970
Joined  2007-02-19

I don’t think so , Dr. Techie. At body temperature, whatever sulphur compounds are present in the gloves are likely to remain where they are. On the other hand, the skin effluvia (which I’m sure I don’t need to begin to detail for you) from bare hands, very possibly unwashed, and even sweaty, really will hardly bear thinking about, and I wouldn’t want them transferred to 1300-year old leather and parchment in any quantity whatsoever, whether measurable or not.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 19 July 2011 01:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2807
Joined  2007-01-31

Well, no, many sulfur compounds are volatile at room or body temperature, and latex gloves typically transfer enough sulfur to cause, for example, silver to tarnish. See here, for instance.  For that reason, cotton or sulfur-free nitrile gloves are usually preferred for handling antique manuscripts.  However, some curators believe that the increased likelihood of mechanical damage caused by the decreased dexterity of gloved hands more than offsets the protection the gloves offer; see for instance here and here.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 19 July 2011 03:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  428
Joined  2007-10-20

Whether or not washed and dried bare hands are better than gloves, this statement by Erle Havens in the second of Dr. T’s links seems poorly thought out or even unscientific:

I always make a point of washing my hands clean of the natural oils that accumulate on my palms and fingertips before handling these materials for any length of time.

It’s the initial contact that would be the most damaging if there is any residue on the skin. Thirty seconds would be as bad as five minutes. I’m sure Mr. Havens knows what he’s talking about. It just struck me as odd.

And there exists the possibility that he was misquoted.

[ Edited: 19 July 2011 03:46 PM by Iron Pyrite ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 19 July 2011 04:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4656
Joined  2007-01-03

I second what Dr. T. says. Most archivists frown on using gloves nowadays.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 19 July 2011 05:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  428
Joined  2007-10-20

...for any length of time

Never mind. In my literal mind, length of time is the opposite of brevity of time. He probably just meant for any time at all.

I’m a little dissatisfied with the wash your hands first description, though not the method itself. What kind of soap? How much do one’s hands perspire? What about a mask over the mouth and nose? Do you ever rub your eyes when you’re doing close work and then touch the thing you’re working on? Yeah, yeah, it’s nitpicky stuff. I’ve also ruined a few pristine items through utter, stupid carelessness. I’m sure the musem people have got it all down. It just reminds me of looking out the back window of a certain museum years ago and seeing all this marble stuff stacked out in the rain on wooden pallets (skids).

Profile
 
 
Posted: 19 July 2011 11:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1970
Joined  2007-02-19

Thanks for the links, Dr. T., they’re very informative. I agree entirely about the “white cotton gloves” - the idea harks back to earlier centuries, when servants waiting at the tables of the privileged were required to wear them. But there are gloves available today which allow a very high degree of tactile sensitivity and delicate control of movement. Surgeons, operating with gloves on, can be remarkably dexterous. And as for sulphur - the concentration which will tarnish silver is vanishingly small, and pretty innocuous, I’d say, where leather, parchment, vellum, paper, etc. are concerned. The acids in skin effusions, on the other hand, can be very damaging to (for instance) natural dyestuffs.
When I worked in the paper industry, I had quite a lot of contact with archivists and librarians, and was repeatedly astonished at the ignorance which I all too often encountered (not that I claim to be any beacon of enlightenment myself, mind). It is heartening to read about the high degree of awareness and understanding shown in the links you provided.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 20 July 2011 04:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  812
Joined  2007-03-01

It just reminds me of looking out the back window of a certain museum years ago and seeing all this marble stuff stacked out in the rain on wooden pallets (skids).

I’ll say!

Some years ago my other half, who was then curator of the museum of a government department (but a civil servant not a museum professional, which made him, by curators, not a curator) was being shown round the subterranean stores of a designated national museum where he noticed an 18th-century sword on loan from his collection, which was stored under a leaky water pipe and consequently thick with rust.

A few months later he had occasion to research that sword and made an appointment to come up and examine it. He was seated in a workroom and the sword was brought in, polished to a sparkle, by a white-gloved museum assistant and reverently placed on the table. He was informed that on no account was he to touch this precious relic, even with gloves; when he wanted to read the inscription on the other side of the blade he was to call the qualified assistant back to turn it over for him.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 20 July 2011 05:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4656
Joined  2007-01-03

It’s not just dexterity that is reduced by gloves, otherwise surgical gloves would be an alternative. Perhaps more important is the reduced tactile sensitivity when wearing any type of glove. You tend to use more force than necessary when handling objects with gloves because you have less ability to sense when you have a firm hold, hence you grip harder and are more likely to cause damage when turning a page. Also with bare hands you feel the page begin to tear or fall apart sooner and can stop what you’re doing before further damage is done. Typically with gloves, you can’t feel the damage as it is happening. This isn’t a problem for surgeons, because living human and animal tissue is very resilient. Dead animal skins are not.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 20 July 2011 07:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1365
Joined  2007-01-29

NOVA: Saving the National Treasures

Catherine Nicholson and Mary Lynn Ritzenthaler
Conservators, National Archives
Wednesday, February 16, 2005; 2:00 PM

Never have a few pieces of animal hide been subject to such meticulous and expensive attention. But these aren’t just any old pieces of parchment. They are America’s priceless Charters of Freedom: the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. On “Saving the National Treasures,” NOVA tells how a seemingly simple project became a five-year, multimillion-dollar technological odyssey. ...
These parchments are sealed in an environment that contains no oxygen which is a chief driver of degradation of organic materials. The relative humidity is controlled to the lowest level to keep the parchment from becoming desiccated and the temperature is also closely maintained. ...
Great care was taken in handling the documents and all necessary precautions were taken. The response to another inquiry addresses the issue of wearing gloves. One of the reasons it was so important to have a clean room evironment while the encasements were being sealed is that any speck of dust or a fiber on the seal surface could have meant that we would not achieve a good seal and would have to start the sealing process over.

Sadly puts away glove pattern and returns to knitting tea cosy.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 20 July 2011 09:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1970
Joined  2007-02-19

Fascinating article, ElizaD - thank you. How interesting, to learn that documents such as the US Declaration of independence were written on parchment!

Profile
 
 
   
1 of 2
1